FA reveal Pascal Struijk appeal panel was split and Leeds United highlighted 'reactions and behaviour' of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
The FA panel who judged Leeds United's appeal of Pascal Struijk's red card was split on the decision to reject it.
An account of the written reasons has revealed that two of the three-man regulatory commission, who sat on Tuesday via video conference, decided referee Craig Pawson had not made an error when sending off the Whites defender for his challenge on Liverpool teen Harvey Elliott.
Former Blackburn Rovers winger Stuart Ripley chaired the panel and was joined by former Derby County, Chesterfield and Notts County striker Marvin Robinson, currently manager of Hednesford Town, and ex Portsmouth goalkeeper Alan Knight. The trio were advised on the laws of the game by former Premier League referee Steve Dunn, of the Referee Advisory Panel.
Law 12, which deals with serious foul play, was at the heart of an appeal that the written reasons say was submitted with four video clips of the incident, one of which focused on the 'reactions and behaviour' of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. Leeds CEO Angus Kinnear wrote to the panel on behalf of the club, setting out in detail why they felt the decision was wrong.
The FA's written reasons described in detail what the footage showed.
It read: "The video footage of the incident showed the ball arriving at the feet of the Liverpool player, Harvey Elliott (‘HE’), who takes the ball slightly across the path of PS who is tracking back. From just behind HE, PS takes to the air and makes a scooping challenge/tackle in an attempt to take the ball away from the advancing HE. PS emerges with the ball and immediately lays it off to a team mate. HE goes to ground and is seriously injured as a consequence of PS’s trailing leg coming down heavily on his ankle. PS is dismissed by the Referee."
The five-page report makes no mention of how referee Pawson came to the decision or what he discussed with Klopp before ushering the Reds boss from the field, before Struijk was red carded.
Two members of the panel felt the referee had not made an obvious error with the sending off, deeming Struijk to have endangered the safety of Elliott by lunging into the challenge from behind.
The report said: "PS did not make first contact with the ball with his leading right foot, the ‘tackling foot’. It was, in fact, his trailing left leg that had made contact with the back of both HE’s legs, with his left upper shin coming down onto the ankle of HE, prior to his left knee/thigh making contact with the ball, seriously injuring HE in the process. The majority view was that PS was not fully in control of his airborne attempt to take the ball away from HE and the ‘tackling right foot’ only made contact with the ball, after full contact with HE was made, and the ball had come off PS’s left knee, and as such he had unduly endangered the safety of HE in a manner that could be categorised as Serious Foul Play. Thus, the Referee had not made an obvious error in dismissing PS."
The third member saw Struijk's challenge as the kind of tackle seen often in the game and felt the damage to Elliott was an 'unfortunate accident.'
The report said: "This particular member feels that a certain level of endangerment exists in every tackle or challenge made on the football pitch, fair or otherwise. The challenge made by PS did not unduly endanger the safety of HE over and above the inherent level of endangerment that will always exist when two players come together in a physical challenge. To the mind of this Commission member PS was entitled to make the scooping challenge in the manner that he did, he was not out of control and did not show any malice or brutality and as such the Referee had made an obvious error in sending PS off."
A two-to-one majority decision was reached in order to reject Leeds' appeal and a further claim by the club that the standard three-game suspension would be excessive was also rejected by the panel, this time unanimously.